November 19, 2019

Edmonds Guide to Holiday Entertaining

The holiday season is upon us with many opportunities over the next several weeks to gather with loved ones over food, drink, and good cheer.

To help you entertain with ease, we spoke with three Edmonds experts who have great tips on putting together an unforgettable meal or party with stress-free style. From wine selection, to cheese boards, to gadgets and serving pieces – they’ve got you covered!

We chatted with Roger Clayton, owner of Arista Wine Cellars to get insights on what wines to serve your guests.

Wines from Arista Wine Cellars

A selection of wines from Arista Wine Cellars

Ed!: What are your recommendations on pairing wine with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner?

Wine with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner can be tricky. Turkey meat and mashed potatoes are pretty boring and bland. Then adding in all those spices and herbs further complicates things. Stay away from big full-bodied wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah which can over power the meal. Fuller-bodied whites or mid-weight reds tend to be better choices.

For whites, I can recommend the 2017, Chateau Ducasse, Bordeaux blanc which is a blend of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and a little Muscadelle. The next white recommendation would be the 2017, Erica Orr, Old Vine, Chenin Blanc, $27. Chenin is more viscus than other whites and therefor can stand up to some of the spices and fats of a Thanksgiving dinner.

As for reds, let’s start with an Oregon Pinot Noir, the 2015, Lemelson Vineyards, Thea’s Selection, $30. Pinot Noir from Oregon is a mid-weight wine with juicy acidity that can again stand up to the multitude of spices and herbs of this dinner.

The next red is the 2014, Maison Arnoux et Fils, Vieux Clocher, Cairanne. $16. A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, which comes from Provence, France that offers up some spice notes along with solid fruit.

Of course starting off a dinner of this nature with some bubbles is always welcome. Some dry hard cider would be fun and very traditional ($12-$20/bottle). But a Champagne would be my preference, and they run $35-$60 or more per bottle.

Ed!: How much wine should someone plan to have at a holiday dinner or party based on the number of attendees and what mix of reds/whites do you recommend?

This is hugely variable. Depends on if there are cocktails and beer available as well. A normal ‘restaurant pour’ is about 5 ounces, and you should be able to get five (5) glasses from a standard 750ml bottle of wine. If you are pouring bubbles to begin with, you can usually get six (6) glasses from a 750ml bottle.

I would plan on about three (3) glasses per person over the course of the evening. As far as the ratio of white wine to red wine, another hugely variable question. I think with cooler temperatures and it getting darker earlier, I would suggest 35% white to 65% red wine.

Ed!: What are your top three favorites in stock right now that you recommend people add to their wine collection for the season?

First, bubbles! You can’t ever have too many bubbles on hand.

One of my favorites is the non-vintage, Lucien Albrecht, Brut rose’, Cremant d’Alsace, $22. Made from 100% Pinot Noir, this delicious French bubbly is full of cherry notes with bright acidity to tame even the creamiest of brie cheeses or simply a bowl of popcorn while watching a movie.

Chablis, a region in Burgundy, France produces steely, rich and vibrant wines from the Chardonnay grape. Roast games birds would be perfect for the 2017, Romain Collet, les Pargues, Chablis, $30.

A winery, actually a co-operative, that I have been buying (I don’t really like the word ‘collecting’!) for many years is Produttori del Babaresco. Any of their vineyard designate wines (Rio Sordo, Asili, Pore, Paje’, Ovello, etc.) are all line-priced at $67. They are made from 100% Nebbiolo and are built to age gracefully for many years. Just thinking about opening a bottle makes my mouth drool!

Next, we asked manager Joyce Doll at The Cheesemonger’s Table about putting together a great cheese board.

Cheese and charcuterie board from The Cheesemonger's Table

Cheese and charcuterie board from The Cheesemonger’s Table

Ed!: DIY cheese boards are a big trend right now. What types/mix of cheeses do you recommend for a basic display?

Usually we encourage customers to mix up milk types. Cow, Sheep & Goat, currently there is a new trend in the cheese industry of mixing milks—we have many goat/cow milk or sheep/goat mix cheeses. It’s just another advancement in the cheese industry that pays off with more delicious kinds of cheese for the consumer.

The other suggestion is to pick at least three different “types” of cheese. With that being said, there are so many “types” that you can classify them as—Hard, Semi-Soft, and Soft or Gouda, Blue & Brie—the combinations can go on and on. Often too, we look at getting different cheese from different countries represented on a platter. If you think of those three things, milk type, origin of country & type of cheese you will have a successful platter!

We always encourage customers to pick more crowd friendly cheeses if hosting a gathering, unless you’re positive you have more adventurous palettes. The nice thing is here at The Cheesemonger’s Table we let you taste most of the cheese before purchasing so you will know when you go to build your platter. Also we can be sure to pick a crowd-friendly cheese that not everyone has heard of or has tasted so you still have a cheese platter that many will enjoy (even your more adventurous guests).

Ed!: How should someone estimate the amount of items on a board based on their number of guests?

Usually you look at 1/2 oz per person per cheese if cheese is going to be the “main” at the party. If you will have more options, then I usually cut it down to 1/4 of an ounce per person per cheese.

The wonderful thing about cheese is usually if you purchase too much, it keeps well and you can find many uses for it in other dishes. We base our cheese boards on three cheeses, two charcuterie items, one jam/compote, nuts, dried fruit/fruit, and crackers. This combination is perfect for a small or large gathering.

Ed!: Are there any specialty items you have for the upcoming entertaining season that you anticipate to be popular?

There are so many wonderful compote/jams available right now and it is fun to play with the different flavors. Especially during the holidays, we have a local company on Orcas Island, Girl Meets Dirt; they mix organic locally sourced fruit with different herbs & spices that enhance many cheeses.

The one trend that I love seeing is vegetables & fresh fruit on platters—beets, squash, cucumbers, melons, plums, pomegranate seeds. Really the sky’s the limit. A great way to make a platter fuller & healthier for all.

Ed!: If someone just wants to leave it to the pros at your shop, how much lead time do you need for orders?

Here at The CMT we can make a tray on the fly if needed, but for larger orders (20 or more people), we ask at least 48 hours in advance if possible. Always check with us either way, we usually can make something work for you and your budget. We have a very creative staff that truly enjoys putting these platters together and can customize your platter for special event.

Finally, we checked in with Jenny Shore at The Wooden Spoon on things every host should consider having on hand when organizing a holiday gathering.

Water Wick candle at The Wooden Spoon

Water Wick candle at The Wooden Spoon

Ed!: What are some of the new trends you are seeing with Thanksgiving and holiday entertaining?

Charcuterie boards are really popular this year, as are the dips, tapenades and pepper jellies that can be served with the meats and cheeses. The Wooden Spoon carries a variety of platters and plates to serve as a beautiful foundation to any type of board you dream up.

Drink mixers are also in demand. We carry the popular Elixer Fixer brand with the tagline “the original party in a bottle”. They are a local company across the water in Port Orchard.

Ed!: What is your best recommendation for a tried and true product that every host needs in their kitchen or on their table?

Everyone needs to have good, sharp knives and peelers for fruit and vegetable prep.

We carry the highly rated GEFU brand of peelers which are an outstanding product. They make the tedious task of peeling vegetables like potatoes a breeze.

Ed!: What is your favorite new item you have in the store this season that you recommend to customers?

Our favorite new product is the Water Wick candle, which combines a battery-powered water fountain with an LED candle. They are very attractive and make a great statement on your holiday table. They also make a great gift.

Happy Holiday entertaining! To check out all the great businesses in downtown Edmonds for all of your holiday needs, visit

By Kelsey Foster, photos by Matt Hulbert

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